Pamphlet No. 21a.
A Plea to Soldiers
:: by a Soldier ::
PRICE ONE PENNY.
THE UNION OF DEMOCRATIC CONTROL,
37, Norfolk Street, Strand,
Union of Democratic Control.
The following pamphlet is published by the Union of Democratic
Control, because it is a valuable contribution to the discussion of the
causes of war and means of its avoidance in future. The object of the
Union in its pamphlets is to place at the disposal of the public ideas and
information which may create a healthy and informed opinion. But it
does not necessarily adopt as its own every statement or opinion therein
contained. The five cardinal points are the only principles to which the
members of the Union are collectively pledged.
The five cardinal points in the policy of the Union
of Democratic Control are as follows: —
To formulate, and organise support for, such a policy as shall lead to the
establishment and maintenance of an enduring peace. For this purpose, to
advocate the following points, and to take any other action which the Council
of the Union of Democratic Control may, from time to time, declare to be in
furtherance of such policy.
1. No Province shall be transferred from one Government
to another without the consent, by plebiscite or otherwise, of the
population of such province.
2. No Treaty, Arrangement, or Undertaking shall be entered
upon in the name of Great Britain without the sanction of
Parliament. Adequate machinery for ensuring democratic control
of foreign policy shall be created.
3. The Foreign Policy of Great Britain shall not be aimed
at creating Alliances- for the purpose of maintaining the Balance
of Power, but shall be directed to concerted action between the
Powers, and the setting up of an International Council, whose
deliberations and decisions shall be public, with such machinery
for securing international agreement as shall be the guarantee of
an abiding peace.
4. Great Britain shall propose as part of the Peace settle-
ment a plan for the drastic reduction, by consent, of the
armaments of all the belligerent Powers, and to facilitate that
policy shall attempt to secure the general nationalisation of the
manufacture of armaments, and the control of the export of
armaments by one country to another.
5. — The European conflict shall not be continued fey economic
war after the military operations have ceased. British policy
shall be directed towards promoting free commercial intercourse
between all nations and the preservation and extension of the
principle of the open door.
"The Union of Democratic Control, convinced that democracy must be based on the
equal citizenship of men and women, invites the co-operation of women."
(Resolution of the General Council of the Union, Februar> 9th, 1913.)
THE WAR TO END WAR.
A Plea to Soldiers by a Soldier.
The argument which I am setting forth in this paper is no
new one. I hasten at once to disclaim all intention of advocating
any original views of my own ; for, were I to attempt to do so, I
should be guilty of wronging those who are my guides and have
been the source of my opinions. For nearly three years now cer-
tain men and women have been willing to endure the vilest mis-
representation and to meet the most public persecution which our
time has known. Because they are content to sacrifice individual
aspirations to what they honestly believe to be the interest of our
country and of the world at large, public opinion — as represented
by the Press— has conducted a bitter campaign against them,
reviling them by a multitude of names, of which "traitor,"
" coward " and " pro-German " have been among the less offen-
sive. To these advocates of an unpopular cause I give all credit,
and to them, too — far more capable than I — would I gladly leave
the publication of their views. But it has been their unfortunate
lot that their very courage has militated against their success. 1
Without being allowed that fair-play on which we, as Englishmen,
are wont to congratulate ourselves, they were from the start of
the war given that bad name which, as the old proverb tells us,
inevitably sticks. I do not labour under that disadvantage. My
position, humble as it is, frees me from the charge of pro-
Germanism. I can only be accused of being the victim of delu-
sions ; and before I am convicted I ask my fellow soldiers, by giving
me a fair hearing, to learn what those " delusions " are. With
this object I add another to the vast list of articles inspired by the
war; and on these grounds I ask any who may be inclined to object,
to excuse my lack of modesty in describing myself as a " soldier."
OUR OUTLOOK AT THE BEGINNING OF THE WAR.
You and I probably lived through July and August, 1914,
with much the same outlook. With a rapidity which surprised
most of us, Great Britain, in common with other Powers of
(1) The last word has, perhaps-, not yet been spoken. — THE EDITORS,
Europe, changed from a country divided into two or more parties
by a dozen important questions into a nation united in its resolve
for war. We had for so long been accustomed to party faction
that the realisation of unity between Government and Opposition
threw us entirely off our guard. Nor was any restraining voice
heard bidding us ponder a while before committing ourselves; for
the numerically small anti-war party, not through lack of courage
but owing to suppression and perversion of the truth, was unable
to secure itself the attention of the nation. One and all we read
the newspapers and were convinced that Germany and Austria
had deliberately forced war upon Europe ; that in doing so they
had violated not only the laws of morality and justice but also
certain obligations binding on England ; that the existence of our
sworn friends in Europe was at stake ; that our own interests were
bound to be endangered ; in short, that we, too, must fight. If
we hesitated at all, as many of us undoubtedly did, Blue-books and
White-books proved clearly that Germany was the aggressor ; while
we found an inspiring moral war-cry in the phrase: "We are
fighting a war to end war." So I felt then, and I still believe now,
that, owing to the international position, England had no choice
but to fight. The reasons for fighting which I have enumerated
certainly existed ; while above all I believed that in truth we were
entering a struggle to end war. It is partly because reflection has
led me (and I know many another soldier of England) to study
history and to analyse the conditions existing in Europe which
made such causes for war possible, and partly with a view to the
establishment of a lasting peace, that I propose to examine those
causes in further detail.
THE OUTBREAK OF WAR.
Had I been asked in the early days why I applauded Eng-
land's decision to fight I should have answered: —
(i.) Austria's precipitate ultimatum to Serbia, sup-
ported by Germany, contained conditions impossible to be
accepted. Serbia's existence was at stake, and Great
Britain professes to be the champion of the liberty 01
(ii.) The neutrality of Belgium, guaranteed by Great
Britain, was violated by Germany.
(iii.) England was bound by certain treaty obligations
to support France.
(iv.) If Germany succeeded in crushing France, she
would next attack Britain.
While I should have added: —
(v.) I consider that Great Britain's honour and in-
terests are at stake. When my country needs men for a
cause in which I believe, I feel it my duty to fight for her.
_ Now, I do not propose to examine the justice, of these causes
individually. It is not my purpose here to discuss whether obliga-
tions entered into by a Government, without the nation being privy
to such obligations, are binding on the nation. I do not now pro-
pose to enter into fruitless discussion as to whether by an alternative
action Sir Edward Grey could have saved Europe even at the
eleventh hour. Nor am I prepared to vindicate the statements that
England's interests were involved, and that it was, therefore, my
duty to fight for her. Instead I wish to group all my reasons
together, and, by considering them as effects rather than as causes,
to go back farther, and to try to understand the circumstances which
were at the root of the whole matter. I wish to be the Chairman
of a Railways Accident Enquiry Board, who does not merely
report that the accident occurred because someone altered the
points, but who also carefully examines the system of a train ser-
vice in which such an action was possible.
What lies behind these reasons ? We are fond of answering
the ' ' German militaristic spirit ' ' or more correctly the
"Prussian militaristic spirit." If we are asked to explain what
we mean thereby we reply that the Prussians, led on by an auto-
cratic governing body, believed that it was their destiny to control
by conquest the states of Europe and the trade of the world. We
point for proof to the huge armaments which Germany had long
been constructing, and the numerous small facts, which have since
come to light, illustrating the completeness of their diplomatic and
military preparations. But England and France had also been
engaged in the furious race for supremacy of armament; and it is
easy to show that small details of diplomatic and military action
had been arranged also by the Entente Powers — with equal cer-
tainty, though, perhaps, with less thoroughness. To justify this we
assert that the preparations of England and her allies were defen-
sive, and that our armaments were designed to meet those of
Germany, which were a danger to Europe. When the German
spokesmen declare that it was England and France who theatened
the peace of Europe, we seem to be approaching the attitude
of two children arguing who hit the other first !
THE PRUSSIAN ATTITUDE.
If, however, we pursue the struggle which has menaced the
tranquillity of Europe to a stage a few years further back, we can
find something rather more tangible to work upon. The idea
of pan-Germanism is of comparatively modern growth. We can
ascribe its origin with surprising exactness to Prince Bismarck, and
to the powerful body of advisers, military and civil, who sur-
rounded the throne of Emperor William I. We can see how the^e
few men, in whose hands lay the external policy of a new state,
infused an ignorant people with their ambitions; how, as the
pioneers passed away, the spirit of militarism was carefully nur-
tured by a succession of politicians, diplomats and soldiers, in
whom the Bismarckian tradition was firmly established ; how they
devoted all the influence which an autocratic body possesses to the
one end, letting no incident pass without turning it to account.
Some they convinced by the theory that it was Germany 's destiny
to be supreme in Europe — that they were a people whose spirit was
so far superior to that of their neighbours that their ascendency
was inevitable, citing as a proof their highly- organised system of
internal government, and the marvellous growth of their trade,
built up by continual industry and far-seeing enterprises. Others,
who were unconvinced by this doctrine, they enlisted on their
side by an unfailing appeal. They urged that they had no outlets
for their vast trade; no room for the expansion of their rapidly
increasing population, compared to the thinly-populated tracts
which are at the disposal of the nations which arrived at an earlier
date in the colonial field. They declared that other Powers of
Europe were standing in their way, and were actively hindering
their social and economic progress.
In answer to this charge, I think that Great Britain can
honestly say that while it was impossible — in fact, inconceivable —
for her to transfer any part of her Empire to another European
Power, she was doing all that she could in fairness to her colonies
to give all comers equal rights of settlement and trade throughout
her dominions. But even if we dismiss as unjustifiable the German
complaint that her late arrival as a coloniser had handicapped her,
yet we must seriously consider the latter part of the charge which
she brings against her neighbours, for it was by this battle-cry that
the Prussian Militarists enlisted the sympathy of that highly in-
telligent and splendidly idealistic body the German Socialist
Party. This is the question which we ought seriously to ask our-
selves : Have other European nations, and particularly England,
endeavoured to stop German enterprise in those few parts of the
world still available for colonisation and " Germanisation" ?
England has all the Empire that she can want, France has more
than is adequate for her decreasing population, Russia needs no
more land for her subjects. If, as we must, we admit the need
for territory of crowded Germany and the legitimacy of her search
for a field for economic enterprise ; if, thinking of our own pride
in our Empire, we sympathise with the German desire for a colony
of her own (just as a woman may hunger for a child to be born to
her), in which her emigrants have not to be subject to language anc!
laws — fair and just enough, perhaps, yet none the less alien — then,
I say, we cannot deny Germany's right to expand in districts where
there is still opportunity for an advanced state to exercise the
privileges of motherhood. Let us look at facts, and discover
whether we have followed this principle of whether the Prussian
charge has any foundation.
The first case which occurs to me is Morocco. It is in the main
unprofitable to rake up incidents which are over, but here we have
one from which, owing to its being well within the memory of even
the youngest among us, and withal damningly convincing, we can
learn much which should be of use to us in the future. Here very
briefly are the facts in chronological order 1 : —
1875=1900. — Realisation of the importance of Morocco to
Great Britain, France, Spain and Germany. (To Britain as con-
taining a strategic counter-point to Gibraltar. To France owing
to the French imperialistic dream of a North African Empire.
To Spain from reasons of sentiment. To Germany as an economic
outlet for her industrial enterprise.)
1880. — Conference of Powers at Madrid over Morocco. Equal
commercial treatment to all comers affirmed.
1880=1900. — Growth of French imperialistic ambition and
development of German trade interests in Morocco.
1901=2. — Secret negotiations between Italy, France and
Italy, in return for the promise of being allowed a free hand
in Tripoli, agrees to the Franco-Spanish partition of Morocco.
Great Britain hears of negotiations, and at her instigation Spain
withholds her assent.
1904. — Franco-British agreement. Published arrangement :
France undertakes not to interfere with British activity in Egypt.
and in return Great Britain agrees to " recognise France's special
interests in Morocco."
1904. — Franco- Spanish declaration. Published Clause:
France and Spain " firmly attached " to the integrity and inde-
pendence of Morocco. Secret clauses in agreement and declaration :
France and Spain to divide Morocco, and share the economic spoils.
Great Britain, from strategic motives, stipulates that Spain, not
France, shall control the Mediterranean coastline. These secret
clauses were concealed from Germany, and from the Parliaments
1 See " Morocco in Diplomacy " or " Truth and the War " (Chapter IX.,.
Both by E. D. Morel.
and Peoples of Britain, France, and Spain. Germany grows
suspicious. At the Kaiser's instigation, the Sultan of Morocco
suggests a further international conference upon European con-
nection with the affairs of his country. Germany advocates such
a conference on the ground that the future of Morocco is an inter-
national matter, and not a Franco-British matter. Great Britain
and France unwillingly consent.
1906. — Algeciras Conference, signed by Great Britain, France,
Spain and Germany, reaffirms the integrity and independence of
the Sultan of Morocco. Secretly : Great Britain is committed by
the Foreign Office to supporting the ambitions of France — i.e., a
potential French Protectorate over Morocco.
1906=1911. — Ignoring the Algeciras Act, France proceeds to
absorb Morocco, amidst the applause of the officially-inspired
British Press, and with the open approval of the British Foreign
Office. Germany endeavours to prevent a rupture by trying to
obtain concessions elsewhere. This is refused by France. The Ger-
man Imperialists criticise the Government for their diplomatic
failure, and urge bellicose action.
1911. — The French occupy Fez, and remain there. German
patience becomes exhausted; and the gunboat " Panther " is sent
to Agadir to intimate that Germany must take part in the settle-
ment of Morocco. France is now in military occupation of a con-
siderable part of the country, while Spain takes possession of the
portion secretly allotted to her. (Final disappearance of the Alge-
ciras Act). The British Secretary for Foreign Affairs sees in the
German action " a menace to British interests." Franco-German
negotiations follow, in which Great Britain insists on taking part.
July 21, 1911. — The Secretary for Foreign Affairs hints that
it may be necessary to protect British interests by force, and
ienounces certain German " demands." Extreme diplomatic ten-
sion results ; war is only averted by the pacific elements in the
November, 1911. — Germany recognises a French protectorate
over Morocco, only stipulating that the door be left open to all
countries for trade and investments. The whole intrigue is sub-
sequently revealed in the French Chamber. It transpires that
the Governments of France and Germany had negotiated before
tJhe French march on Fez. Germany had then consented to recog-
nise the French protectorate over Morocco, provided that she re-
ceived compensation elsewhere exactly as had been granted to
Great Britain, Italy and Spain. These were the " demands "
(referred to above) denounced by the British Secretary for Foreign
Net Result. — France and Britain had treated the' Algeciras
Act as " a scrap of paper." The French jingoes wei*e enormously
strengthened, and the German Imperialists became incensed with
France and Great Britain. German Socialists were convinced that
their country was the victim of a hostile conspiracy. Increased
tension between Germany and the Anglo-French Entente.
(2) THE EASTERN QUESTION.
So much for Morocco. Let us now turn to those regions of
Asia in which the question recurred of selfish European inter-
ference with Germany's desire for expansion. We can here honestly
congratulate ourselves that, when the war broke out, the policy of
Great Britain was to some extent being directed along the path of
fairness and far-seeing statesmanship, despite the violent protests
of the Imperialists. A chronological table is difficult in this case,
but a rapid survey may help to disclose the justice of Germany's
charge against some of the elements in the Entente countries, and
to indicate the lines which a high-principled policy should pursue
after the war. 1
One of the most important factors in the international politics
of recent years has been the German hope of a " Berlin to Bag-
dad " Railway. German ambition has long been directed towards
Turkey, primarily by Von Moltke, and since his day by a succes-
sion of strategists and economists. The Turkish dominions, so badly
governed and so loudly crying for reform that the most ardent
British Imperialist will surely acknowledge that even German
control would be a change for the better, form the largest of the
very few parts of the globe still open for development by an en-
lightened Power. Even here, however, Germany found abundant
traces of British influence, which remained predominant until the
British occupation of Egypt and our consequent anti-Turkish
policy. Method and industry rapidly gave to the Germans the
most influential position at Constantinople. By contracts, conces-
sions and loans, and particularly by the sale of armaments, they
made headway ; nor can we forget how large a part was played by
the Prussianisation of the Ottoman Army — which was thoroughly
acceptable to the Turks themselves. In 1873 German financiers
started the Anatolian Railway, which gradually reached Konia.
In 1899 and 1902 concessions were obtained, with the goodwill
of the Turkish Government, for an extension to Bagdad and the
Persian Gulf. Here I quote from Mr. Lowes Dickinson: —
" Here had been launched on a grandiose scale a great enter-
prise of civilisation. The Mesopotamian plain, the cradle of
civilisation, and for centuries the granary of the world, was
to be redeemed by irrigation from the encroachment of the
desert, order and security were to be restored, labour to be 6et
1 See " European Anarchy," by G. Lowes Dickinson, and " Turkey and
the Roads to the East," by H. N. Brailsford.
at work, and science and power to be devoted on a great scale
to their only proper jDurpose, the increase of life. Here was an
idea fit to inspire the most generous imagination. Here, for all
the idealism of youth and the ambition of maturity, for diplo-
matists, engineers, administrators, agriculturists, educa-
tionists, an opportunity for the work of a lifetime, a task to
appeal at once to the imagination, the intellect, and the or-
ganising capacity of practical men, a scheme in which all
nations might be proud to participate, and by which Europe
might show to the backward populations that the power she
had won over nature was to be used for the benefit of man,
and that the science and the arms of the West were destined
to recreate the life of the East." 1
While Mr. H. N. Brailsford says: —
" From the Turkish point of view this railway was an ad-
ministrative and military necessity. Railway builders who
considered only the needs of trade would not have been at-
tracted by it. The denser population in Turkey is to fee
found clustered in limited areas near the coast The
natural course was to drive short railways (of which there
are still too few) up from the ports, so as gradually to develop
the roadless interior. But for the purposes of Government,
police, and military concentration, it was precisely through
the sparsely-peopled, half-tilled, and inaccessible interior that
the Porte most wished to drive a road. Only by this means
could the primitive anarchy of some provinces be brought to
order Commercially, the Bagdad Railway is un-
likely to be profitable for many years, or even decades
From an economic standpoint the best that can be said for it
is that it will gradually concentrate population along its own
course, and bring cultivation to the waste places. This has
happened already in the plain of Konia. There was everything
to be said for such a railway from the Turkish standpoint, but
much less from that of the foreign trader." 2
Unfortunately, German}' now came into collision with the
interests of the Powers of Europe. She approached them for finan-
cial and political aid, only to meet jealousy and instant hostility.
A guarantee of maintaining the policy of the " open door" did
nothing to assuage the antagonism of the Conservative and Im-
nerialistic elements of France, Britain, and Russia. The vested
interests of these three countries (so potent a factor in international
politics under the present system) feared for their trade — as though
established interests should always be a bar to enterprise and de-
1 G. Lowes Dickinson, The European Anarchy." P. 100.
2 H. N. Brailsford, " Turkev and the Roads to* the East," P. 13.
velopment ! Russia saw in the Germanisation of Turkey a menace
to her own ambitions regarding the gates of the Black Sea. Simi-
larly a cry was raised in England that Germany was preparing for
a strategic advance on Egypt, Persia, and India; though it is
difficult to see what she hoped to gain thereby, having already in
prospect the development of a vast area in Asia, or how she hoped
to attain such an object with Russia, the ally of Britain, menacing
her communications. For a time tension, fostered by trade interests
and the Press campaign, existed between the Powers concerned.
Friendly co-operation failed; but after the crisis had somewhat
abated, German perseverance engineered agreements with Russia
(1911), France (1914), and England (1914), so that just prior to
the outbreak of the war saner and more liberal policies defeated
the unjustifiable and dangerous intentions of jingoes and mili-
The result, then, of this series of incidents was that after a
long period of friction and difficulty, owing to the selfishness of the
aggressive and interested elements in the Triple Entente, Germany
was enabled to carry out a scheme of development beneficial to
herself, to Turkey, and to civilisation, upon an agreement less digni-
fied and less advantageous to Britain, France and Russia, than
that originally proposed by the Berlin statesmen. Again, fresh
impetus was given to the bad feeling existing between the two
groups in Europe.
Having examined these two international questions, we can
draw certain conclusions, which may give us a fairer insight into
the causes of the war, and consequently certain guiding principles
for the removal of such causes in the future. Firstly, I have pro-
duced sufficient evidence to show that, whoever was guilty of the
particular action which started the present war, Germany had
very definite instances of aggressive treatment by other Powers
(Great Britain included), to which she could point as proof of her
contention that she was the victim of a European conspiracy, and
that her neighbours were striving in unison to check her economic
and colonial expansion. From this we get the first ideal that should
inspire us in our after-war policy. Fair-play, which we delight
to call a typically British virtue, must be accorded to every nation ;
or, to change the phrase, all nations must be given equality of
opportunity for legitimate development. When we have secured
an international system based on this broad ground, then, and then
only, shall we be able with honesty and sincerity to accuse our
neighbours of aggressive conduct.
(2) NATIONAL IGNORANCE OF FOREIGN POLICY.
The next point which I would emphasise is one which explains
much of the friction with which I have dealt above, and a point,
too, which follows as the necessary corollary from my first conclu-
sion. It is a means to that end ; as well as an end in itself. We have
seen how nearly Europe was involved in war over the question of
Morocco. France and Germany were the actual disputants, but it
was inevitable that, had war broken out beween them, England
would have been drawn in. And yet the English people (the 60-
called " de facto rulers " of England) knew very little indeed of
the matter until the crisis was past. Moreover, what small know-
ledge of the case they had was entirely subordinated in the minds
of the majority to the internal politics of the moment. If I waa
to tell any one of the soldiers in this camp that we had been, a
few years ago, on the verge of being drawn into a war, similar in
magnitude to the present one, on the question of the partition of
Morocco (a partition in which his own country was to have had no
share), I am confident that the soldier would disbelieve me. Yet
such is actual fact. And I doubt not that that soldier would argue
with me intelligently on the rights and wrongs of the National
Insurance Act or the Abolition of the House of Lords. In other
words, the Foreign Policy of this country, on which depends the
manner of life of every Englishman, lies in the hands of a limited
group, who hand on, one to another, traditions of secrecy. How
often were Foreign Politics discussed in Parliament prior to this
war ? At the best the Secretary of Foreign Affairs made an occa-
sional statement of vague generalities, carefully omitting particu-
lars such as our alliances with other Powers; or an inquisitive
private member asked a question about the trivial details of
Consular administration. What would have been the fate of a
candidate who at election time addressed his supporters on the
Diplomacy of the Government? I know that his audrence would
have melted away, and attached themselves to his rival, who, wise
in his generation, would have been volleying and thundering on
some such topic as Marconi shares. Yet on our Foreign Policy rests
the fate of the Empire, and of every individual member thereof.
(3) DEMOCRATIC CONTROL.
The remedy lies in allowing the nation to consider International
matters. I would have a committee of the House of Commons on
Foreign Relations, which could discuss the actions of the Secretary
for Foreign Affairs, and register votes on matters of Foreign
Policy, with the same freedom and publicity as any member of
Parliament can criticise and vote on the financial engagements of
the Chancellor of the Exchequer. If I am told that secrecy is
essential to a successful Foreign Policy, I answer that secrecy is only
essential to that type of Foreign Policy which enters into a definite
agreement regarding Morocco and disregards that agreement as-
soon as is convenient. Such an arrangement (I mean a Committee
of the House of Commons on Foreign Relations) would remove
the national apathy regarding our diplomacy, and would arouse
in the minds of the people of England a sense of their responsibili-
ties in this direction. As for the objection that the people of Eng-
land are not sufficiently educated to make proper use of such
responsibility, I remind my objectors that it is less than a century
ago that the. workmen of agricultural England were supposed to
be incapable of thinking and voting sanely on questions of domestic
policy. Briefly, then, my second contention is the necessity for a
more democratised control of Foreign Policy. 1
(4) THE DANGER OF IGNORANT JINGOISM.
One more lesson can be drawn from our two examples of
British Foreign Policy, and that lesson will provide the answer
to the oft-repeated objection to Democratic Control of International
Affairs. It is said that when a diplomatic crisis becomes known to
the public, their influence is always on the side of war. Apart
from the answer that the present war will, for generations to come,
be a wholesome reminder to the peoples of Europe, I can urge a far
more effective counter-policy. Were the democratisation of foreign
policy to be carried out on the lines which I have indicated, these
crises would not occur in the same manner which they do at
present. I am not maintaining that popular control will immedi-
ately bring about concord and harmony between the nations (al-
though it is obvious that the abolition of secret clauses to published
treaties will involve a great step in that direction) ; I am simply
showing that if tension shall chance to exist in Europe, the general
public will have been able to follow up every circumstance leading
to such tension ; and will have had, through their representatives, op-
portunity of directing those circumstances. In the past the Govern-
ments of Great Britain have never admitted the House of Commons
into their councils until nearly all chance of peaceful negotiation has
passed, and war has been imminent. In a society where every man
can study the course of his country's foreign policy, he will be able to
form his own opinion as to the probable course of events which will
follow any particular line of action. At any rate, the leaders of
contemporary thought will have a fair chance of directing opinion,
by speeches and writings, before it becomes too late. What happens
at present ? With few preliminaries the man in the street learns
that a diplomatic crisis has arisen, which may involve England
in war. He learns suddenly of alliances and agreements of which
he was previously totally ignorant. X nere * s no profit to be gained
\ See hooks and pamphlets, published by the Union of Democratic Con-
trol, for the proper presentation of this contention.
now by questioning the justifiability of these alliances. A natural
desire, born of ordinary business habits and social practice, makes
an Englishman anxious that his country should meet her obliga-
tions. If he does give thought to the advisability of our treaties,
he knows that it is too late now to alter them. Then if he still
hesitates he is overweighed by the influence of the newspapers —
particularly those jingoistic journals which have the widest circula-
tion. They give the battle-cry : Our national honour is at stake.
Officially inspired they give space only to arguments and speeches
in favour of high-handed conduct. The public take their cue from
the newspapers and then, no doubt, democracy is in favour of war.
But he who has followed my argument knows that this is not the
true expression of democracy, but a voice based on impotence and
ignorance. In the case of the Eastern Question, which I have
outlined above, the jingoes and the jingoistic newspapers nearly
involved this country in war, and actually succeeded in fermenting
a vast amount of bad feeling between England and Germany, which
is one of the causes of the present war. Whereas, if the Parlia-
ment and the people had known from the beginning the circum-
stances of the case, and if the leaders of opinion had been free to
point out the arguments for both sides, I am convinced that the
position arrived athy the Government just prior to the war would
have been reached in a quicker and more dignified fashion, with-
out any friction between England and Germany. This, then, is the
t-hird point — the immense danger of unbridled jingoism free to
work among an uninstructed public.
APPLICATION OF THE LESSONS.
I have now touched upon some few of the causes of the war;
bringing as evidence of German contentions two concrete instances,
from which I have drawn three lessons, closely connected with one
another : the need for fair-play in international relations ; the
harm done to the cause of peace by jingoism, and the necessity
for democratic control of foreign policy. These principles, I have
contended, should be the basis of the settlement after the war, the
controlling ideas in the minds of those responsible for the conclud-
ing of the peace terms. The exact terms it is impossible to suggest
at present ; all that I can do is to outline in very general terms the
application of these principles to the settlement. I can best do so
by examining the type of peace which cannot fail to accentuate
those very causes of war which we set out to destroy.
THE "CRUSHING" OF GERMANY.
We hear only too often statements by prominent men in this
country to the effect that it is our intention to " crush " Ger-
many and Austria by means of the war. Various methods of doing
so have been suggested. Firstly, there is annexation, a question
which involves extra-European territory as well as that on the
Continent. If Alsace-Lorraine wishes to return to France, no one
©an object, for Alsace-Lorraine is not part of Germany. Similarly
we ought to establish in Poland that form of autonomous Govern-
ment most acceptable to the Poles, every State concerned — Ger-
many and Austria included — co-operating heartily and with equal
voice in the matter. This is only the application of the principle
of fair-play. But apart from these changes, there is a certain
element in England which calls aloud for further annexation of
territory, and talks of the dismemberment of Germany and
Austria. Such utterance, however irresponsible its origin, does
incalculable harm to our cause, and tends without a doubt to
lengthen the war. Let us look at the Franco-Prussian War, the
German annexation of Alsace-Lorraine. Prussia thought then, as
our extremists think to-day, that the thorough humiliation of a
fallen enemy would ronder that enemy incapable of further
struggle. We know how different was the case, and how the desire
for revenge kept alive in France for over forty years that hatred
of Germany which is one of the causes of the present conflict. (We
must also note here the very decided impetus given to the Prussian
militaristic spirit by their annexation). If France, with her de-
creasing population and her frequent political discord, could not
rest subdued under her loss, are we to imagine that Germany,
united by the desire for revenge, with her persevering and ever-
growing people, will remain peaceful for many years after, let us
say, the loss of her Rhine Provinces ? For God's sake let us see
that our loved ones have not died in vain !
In earlier times the Roman Army were entrapped by enemies,
who hesitated as to what course to pursue when they had their
bitter foe totally at their mercy. A wise elder sent them alterna-
tive counsel. " Either kill them all," he said, " or let them all
go." Nowadays, even supposing we had Germany in our power,
their vast population makes extermination ridiculous. There is
still only one alternative' — "Let them all go," that is to say, we
must treat them so fairly that they will be content to live in con-
cord for the future, nursing no implacable desire for revenge.
Germany and Austria must meet us, after this war, however it
ends, on equal terms at the peace conference. I confess that I see
no alternative to the transference of part at least of their African
colonies to the South African Union, but I suggest compensation
elsewhere — in the undeveloped regions of Asia, referred to above.
The second method suggested if or " crushing " Germany is the
imposition of an. indemnity. This idea cannot be treated seriously.
In the first place it is evident that, after paying their shares in
the reconstruction of Belgium and Servia, the Central Powers, in
common with the Allies, will have enough to do for years to come
in paying for the war. Any financier will assure us, too, that the
imposition of an ii demnity will react on all the other nations of
Europe. 1 Again, the imposition of an indemnity is open to the
same objections as are all forms of punishing an enemy : it is a
motive to revenge, as well as an action to a oonquered antagonist
unworthy of any nation professing to fight for liberty.
Before I proceed to the last method put forward for the
" crushing " of Germany, I wish to meet the usual objection to the
course which I have propounded. Germany, I am told, must be
made to pay for her outrages — murder of civilians, brutality to
prisoners, submarine warfare and so on throughout the long list,
which we all regard with equal detestation and horror. I answer
that the failure of their beliefs, the realization of the truth about
their cause, for which they have fought with heroic purpose, will
be enough payment for the people of Germany. Any indemnity or
annexation will have its maximum effect on the people, who are as
innocent of +1 -e giving of orders for these o itrages as you or I are
innocent of any acts by our Government, many of which are
unknown to us. The way to punish those responsible for German
conduct during the war is to prove by our moderation in victory
the falseness of enemy allegations against us, and by our fairness to
unite the people of Germany, not by the spirit of revenge, but by
the desire for freedom from their rulers, who led them into the war,
and by the determination to rid themselves of their autocratic
governors. In this way we shall indirectly punish the guilty, and
induce our former enemies to unite with us in the prevention of
(3) ECONOMIC WAR AFTER THE WAR.
We must now consider the last and most popular course
suggested for the "crushing" of Germany. It is the policy of
" economic war after the war," and it has behind it the authority
of the British Government.
In June, 1916, representatives of the Allied Governments met
in Paris for an economic conference, with the object of countering
preparations which they allege that Germany is making for an
economic domination of the trade world after peace is declared.
To this end our Government has published a list of " Recommenda-
l . See the " Great Illusion," Part I., by Mr. Norman Angell.
tions" 1 made by this conference lor concerted action in trade
matters by the Allies during, immediately after, and permanently
after the war. These recommendations embody those A T ery
principles against -which they profess to be directed, principles which
are denounced by the Conference as " a grave peril " and as the
imposition "of an intolerable yoke." In other words, on the
plea (which is absolutely unjustifiable, and rests entirely on the
irresponsible talk of jingoistic German newspapers) that Ger-
many initiated preparations for an " economic war after the war,"
England is to be committed, without her people's consent,
to that very type of aggression which ■"-"} set out to defeat. The
" War to End Wars" is to be the cause of a new war directed
. against the trade and the economic opportunities and the com-
mercial life, not of an au+ooratic despotism, but of seventy million
misguided people. Such an economic war, in the opinion of unpre-
judiced neutrals and of the lovers of freedom in all countries, will
inevitably result in a repetition of the present struggle, in which
JEngland will have to fight, not an autocratic system, but a people
with a just cause behind them and their very existence at stake.
To such a war there can be but one conclusion, the conclusion
reached when Napoleon challenged not the armies of kings and
emperors but the spirit of an oppressed people. In evidence of my
-contention we have only to look at the publication in Germany of
those Paris Resolutions. The Socialist party, which by now, in the
opinion of shrewd observers, might have thrown off its rulers as
Russia has done, has closed its ranks, and found itself more in
harmony with the militaristic element than it had previously been
throughout the whole war. The Allies played into the hands of
the Prussian statesmen, who had thrown to them substantial proof
in support of their accusation that not Germany but France and
England were the aggressors, and that it was Germany who was
fighting to preserve her economic lioerties against a militaristic
combination. To those who, caring nothing for freedom and
morality or for the object with which Great Britain justified her
entry into the struggle, demand that the economic oppression shall
be so rigorous as to make Germany permanently impotent, I answer
that such an idea is impossible. However hopeless the cause of a
people united by oppression may appear, given sufficient justifica-
tion (as our politicians propose to give them), they will eventually
throw off "the intolerable yoke" imposed upon them. Any
measures such as those recommended by the Allied Conference, and
destined to weaken our enemies, will inevitably weaken our alliance
as well; and, by their impartial operation among friends and foes
alike, cannot fail to break up the Entente Alliance as at present
•constituted. To realize the truth of this statement we must
1 See " Economic War After the War," by G. Lowes-Dickinson (U.D.C.),
for the text of the Recommendations and a criticism.
examine another objection to the " economic war after the war,' 7
which I bring forward to convince those who are willing to risk
another war in view of the immediate profits which they fancy will
accrue to England from the proposed commercial boycott of
Not only will England and her Allies secure no profits to
themselves by imposing such a boycott, but they will, I unhesita-
tingly affirm, bring upon the workers of their countries sufficient
loss to neutralise every improvement in the social and industrial
life of the poorer classes which has been made during the last
century. When peace is declared we shall have a vast number of
factors leading to impoverishment without adding to them. Un-
employment, rise in the cost of living and consequent decline of
wages, depreciation of money values and a hundred other diffi-
culties are bound to follow in the wake of war. It is proposed to
add to these by removing the means of support of the great number
of working men whose labours contributed to and whose livelihood
depended on our former export trade to Germany; the value of
which (to quote facts as they affect Great Britain alone) totalled
111 millions sterling in 1913, and which had during the previous
ten years more than doubled itself. Owing to the widespread need
for retrenchment after the war no other country will be able to
increase her imports from Britain so as to take the place of the
great export total from this country. Again, in 1913 our imports
from Germany amounted to the value of 108 millions, and were
increasing on the same scale as the exports. These imports are
necessary to the carrying on of our industrial life. If we no longer
buy from Germany we must buy elsewhere. It is suggested by the
advocates of the economic war that our Allies will provide the
markets. I do not hold that this will always be untrue, but I urge
two considerations : Firstly, that these markets cannot be organised
until very many years after the war, during which period industrial
depression will have ruined Great Britain and her Allies ; secondly,
that no other country could sell goods so well made and so cheap
as did Germany before the war; and that consequently, just when
poverty and distress will be most rampant in England, we shall
be forced to pay very increased prices for our necessary imports
Similar considerations can be urged in all the Allied countries.
I have indicated in barest outline two lines on which it may be
proved how futile, from the point of view of gain to the Entente
belligerents, is the proposed economic war. The crux of the whole
question lies in the economic interdependence of trade in the
modecn world. To those who would study the matter in all its
bearings, I can only recommend in admiring deference, Mr. Nor-
man Angell's ^ Great Illusion ''—the classic of the subject. 1 1
have merely endeavoured to show that the proposed trade war with
Germany after this war is economically unsound, in addition to
being morally wrong, and as fatal to all hopes of future peace as are
those other suggested plans for the " crushing " of Germany.
SUMMARY OF ARGUMENTS.
My conclusions from the foregoing arguments may be briefly
summarised. Germany was to blame for the actual outbreak of
. the war; the causes of which cannot be laid to the door of any
one nation, but which are shared by the oligarchic Governments of
all the Powers of Europe. To remove those causes is the object of
the war. A peace which will do so must be founded on fair play —
no nation being penalised as the criminal by annexations, imposi-
tion of indemnity, or economic isolation, all of which are both
morally wrong and practically useless. Further, democratic con-
trol of Foreign Policy must be established, as a means towards
that international unity which we set out to secure. Only thus, I
maintain, can we hope to prevent another war in Europe, as
terrible as the present one.
OUR PRINCIPLES IN ACTION.
One often hears such conclusions styled as idealistic. So they
are, perhaps, but we must remember that the ideals of to-day are
the basic principles of to-morrow. Moreover, there is abundant
evidence that these ideals are capable of realisation at no very
distant date. The Russian Revolution is an undoubted step
toward the arrangement of peace terms on a statesmanlike
and moderate basis ; while America has entered the war with a
noble declaration embodying the principles I am supporting. I
know that in France and Germany, too, the Socialistic elements
are striving toward the same ends. Great Britain has, through
her people, borne a glorious share in the war; and 6he has paraded
her love of liberty and her moral purpose as no other of her Allies
has done. Great Britain must not be the drag on the wheel of
progress, nor the cause of the futile prolongation of the war. But
she will be a drag if her politicians are allowed a free hand ; if her
people are given no say in the question of the settlement. We have
proof of this in those Paris Resolutions alone. There are some
who declare that to-day, if Great Britain would move, peace might
*. Heinemann, 2s. 6d.
be arranged. On this point I am not convinced, but I plead with
all intensity that a fair hearing may be given to those who hold
such opinions, and that they may be allowed to raise their voices
in the great cause which they are so courageously espousing. Still
more do I insist that our country must fight for a permanent
peace. Ju6t as I, amid many thousands of others, took up arms
with the idea that this — a permanent peace — was our goal, so now
I am praying that I may not be lead into bearing a hand, however
insignificant, in prolonging the struggle, and rendering future war
inevitable. To decide whether we are doing so or not, each*
one of us must look to his own conscience, not waiting on the words
of any man, but considering all the factors impartially. When
any soldier is satisfied in his own mind that Great Britain
is fighting a war which is neither a war of defence nor
yet a " war to end war," he will then be playing the part of a true
patriot to resign any position in the Army which he accepted volun-
tarily. As long as he is convinced that a vigorous prosecution of the
struggle is necessary for the establishment of a just peace and a
peace which will be lasting, then his duty is to fight with all his
strength, giving freely of his services.
Many of us are in doubt to-day. For my own part, as soon
as my conscience and my reason tell me that we are no longer true
to the ideals of our cause, I trust that I shall have the strength to
follow the harder path — the infinitely harder path — -and resign
my humble position in this Army. We must watch events fairly,
and take counsel with our hearte. The issue is grave, and affects
every one of us, the youngest most of all. " We must prepare for
the coming hour," said Disraeli in a notable passage. " The claims
of the future are represented by suffering millions, and the Youth
of a Nation are the Trustees of Posterity." His words never rang
truer than to-day. They are well supplemented by a passage from a
modern lover of liberty : —
" But I hope; I hope because of the young. And to them
I now turn. To you, young men, it has been given by a tragic
fate to see with your eyes and hear with your ears what war
really is. Old men made it, but you must wage it — with what
courage, with what generosity, with what sacrifice of what
hopes, they best know who best know you. If you return from
this ordeal, remember what it has been. Do not listen to the
shouts of, victory, do not snuff the incense of applause ; but
keep your inner vision fixed on the facts you have faced. You
have seen battleships, bayonets and guns, and you know them
for what they are, forms of evil thought. Think other
thoughts, love other loves, youth of England and of the
world ! You have been through hell and purgatory. Climb
now the rocky stair that leads to the sacred mount. The
guide of tradition leaves you here. Guide now yourselves and
us. Believe in the future, for none but you can. Believe in
the impossible, for it waits the help of your hands to become
the inevitable. Of all the beet hopes of civilisation and man-
kind, the old, the disillusioned, the gross, the practitioners oi
the world are the foes. Be you the friends ! Take up the
thought and give it shape in act ! You can, and you alone. It
is for that you have suffered. It is for that you have gained
vision. And in your ears for your inspiration, rings the great
sentence of the poet: —
' Libero, dritto e sano e lo tuo arbitrio,
E fallo fora non fare a suo senno,
Per ch' io te sopra te corono e mitrio.'
(Free, right and whole is thy will, and it would be error not
to act at its bidding. Wherefore I crown and mitre thee Lord
over thyself.) '"
\ " After the War," by Mr. Lowes Dickinson.
The following Pamphlets have
been issued by the Union of
No. 2a. Shall this War End German Militarism?
by Norman Angell ... Id.
No. 3a. War the Offspring of Fear, by Hon.
Bertrand Russell ... Id.
No. 4a. The Origins 6f the Great War, by H. N.
Brailsford ... ... 7"..V_ ... ... Id.
No. 5a. Parliament and Foreign Policy, by Arthur
Ponsonby, M.P ... ... Id.
No. 6a. The National Policy ... Id.
No. 7a. The International Industry of War ... Id.
No. 8a. War and the Workers, by J. Ramsay
MacDonald, M.P Id.
No. 9a. Why We Should State Terms of Peace Id.
No. 10a. Towards an International Understand-
ing ... Id.
No. 11a. Women and War, by H. M. Swan wick ... Id.
No. 12a. The Polish Problem, by a Pole ... ... Id.
No. 13a. The Prussian in our Midst, by Norman
Angell ... Id.
No. 14a. The Balance of Power Id.
No. 15a. The League of Nations, by J. A. Hobson... Id
No. 16a. Labour and the Costs of War, by J. A.
Hobson ... Id.
No. 17a. Peace Debate in the House of Commons
(May 23rd, 1916) ... ... Id.
No. 18a. Turkey and the Roads of the East, by
H. N. Brailsford 2d.
No. 19a. Economic War after the War, by G.
Lowes Dickinson ... ... 2d.
No. 20a. America and the Cause of the Allies,
by Norman Angell ... ... ... ... Id.
No. 21a. The War to End War: A Plea to Soldiers
by a Soldier .;. ... ... ' ■ ... ... Id.
No. 22a. The African Problem and the Peace
Settlement, by E. D. Morel ... ... 2d.
No. 23a. The Races of Austria-Hungary, by G. P.
Gooch ... ... ... ... ... ... 2d.
37, Norfolk Street, Strand, W.G2.
Books supplied by the Union of
A League of Nations, H. N. Brailsford 2/0
Towards a Lasting Settlement, C. R. Buxton and
The European Anarchy, G. Lowes Dickinson ... 1/8
Towards International Government, J. A. Hobson 2/6
The New Protectionism, J. A. Hobson 6d.
National Defence, J. R. MacDonald, M.P 2/6
Truth and the War, E. D. Morel 2/0
Africa and the Peace of Europe, E. D. Morel ... 2/0
Democracy and Diplomacy, A. Ponsonby, M.P. ... 2/6
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